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Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview of Fireflies paranormal author P. S. Bartlett

This spring, as I count the days until April 16 when my middle grade book The Wide Awake Loons is published, GMTA Publishing has released Fireflies by P. S. Bartlett. 

P. S. Barlett’s  illuminating novel Fireflies is about a boy who, through the "sight" or haunting psychic experience, remembers his family’s emigration to America.  The book relates migrated and newfound life in paranormal terms.   I’ve had the delight of interviewing the author, Peggy, and am  also pleased to publish this first interview at Writing Amid Used Books.

Congratulations, P. S. Bartlett!   Your book Fireflies was published April 3, 2013, by GMTA Publishing under its Mythos imprint.

Could you give a synopsis or some words about your book?  
“Fireflies” at its core, is about love and the bonds of family, however, it is also so much more than I had imagined it to be when I first started writing it. I would categorize it as historical fiction with a paranormal plot. The heart of the story is the relationship between Irish immigrants, Owen and Sarah Whelan and their seven uniquely different children. The soul of the story is the drama that unfolds when they realize that their youngest child, Ennis, is being haunted. However, this isn’t a classic haunting by any means. There are no frightening specters or rattling chains. These lost souls that have latched on to him, give him amazing abilities and bring forth awakenings and changes in all of their lives which both enlightens and enriches them. However, these spirits have another purpose and reason for choosing him but in revealing it, old wounds will have to be reopened in order for them to finally heal.

Fireflies sounds highly intriguing.  Where can the book or information about it be found?   Links?

Twitter: @psbartlett

Barnes & Noble

Thinking on Fireflies, how do you remember its beginnings as an idea?   After you decided to do this book, how did it proceed?
  I wanted to write a book about a large family with the youngest child being the focal point of the story. I originally imagined him being a healer and even a prophet but once I began developing the characters, a strange thing happened and I found myself researching the area were my mother grew up. She used to tell me wonderful stories about the mix of nationalities due to immigration and although I wanted to stay with my main plot, I became increasingly curious about the history and the early years, long before my mother was even born and from there, the story just blossomed.

If the setting of your book were filmed, where would you imagine that ideally?  How would that concur with scenes?  
It would definitely take place in rural Pennsylvania in a beautiful valley; a small town with the homes separated by acres of pasture or farmland. This setting would match perfectly with the scenes in the book.

Did you understand the characters in your book at first or did they reveal themselves as you wrote the story?  Did they respond to your plot as you planned?
Names are very important to me for some reason. I’ll even research the name meanings to make sure they fit the character’s personality. By starting out with the clear idea of the characters and who they are, it was very easy for them to behave as themselves throughout the story, even when these incredible events start happening, they grow and evolve as themselves. I knew them all before I started telling their stories.

Or did your characters change your plot?  Did your book end as you expected or planned?
One character in particular had a way of trying to push things this way and that way but I held her back and made her stick to the story. Yes, the book ended exactly as I had planned.

Did you have finishing touches?  At the last, when you were editing, did you think of improvements that pleased you?
Absolutely! I’m sure the book was edited at least seven or eight times, including the two times by my professional editor. I received excellent feedback from both her and my beta readers who are also my friends. All of their input was fantastic. Also, on my final round of edits, I changed several small things but they definitely enhanced those few scenes.

Can you tell the path that your book took to being published?
I started in late September of 2012 by submitting it to literary agents in the traditional way. Having never written a full novel before, I did a lot of homework to find out how to choose the right agents to submit to and what to send. I received a few requests for the first fifty pages or first two chapters but nothing panned out. I started in groups of five a month, all the while believing they were passing up the best story I could have possibly written but once I started to get some feedback, I realized the story needed work so I went back to the laptop and did just that. In late December, right before Christmas I started following GMTA Literary on Twitter and checked out there web site. Unfortunately it appeared they weren’t taking any submissions over the holidays so I messaged Kitty Bullard who is the publisher, asking if I could send a query once they started accepting them again. She replied within a few hours and said to go ahead and send it, that she’d be looking at them over the holidays anyway. Long story short, she requested the whole manuscript and by early January, she sent me a contract.  

Is writing your main form of expression or do you have another art outlet?  If so, do these connect?
I’ve also been a visual artist my whole life. I draw and paint and my specialty is portraits. When I was a child I would combine the two by writing my own little books and illustrating them myself.

What is necessary for you when you write?  A place, time, things on the desk, a certain computer?  Do you write at all in hand?
The only thing necessary for me to write is some time alone which I don’t get a lot of. I work a full time job, I still have a teenager at home and I have a three year old granddaughter who I love spending time with. Not to mention my poor husband who puts up with all of this! J
I like to write on my comfy old sofa on my laptop. I can’t write sitting at my desk on the big PC because it feels too much like I’m at my day job.

How is the imaginative process for you?  Does it give some of the satisfaction of reading?  Do you like that part better than the later stages, revising and editing?
So far I love all of it. Although editing can be tedious, it is an essential part of the process. When the creativity is flowing, you can’t stop after every paragraph and fix things, you have to keep going with the flow as fast as your fingers can keep up. I enjoy reading a good story but for me, telling a good a story is a whole lot more fun.

What books in the genre of yours were your favorites?  Did they inspire you to write?
Honestly, I’ve read historical fiction or paranormal stories but never a book with both except for vampire novels. I’ve loved books of every kind since I was a child and have been writing short stories and poetry off and on all of my life. I honestly can’t say that any one author or story inspired me. Somehow it was just always there and either it came out in words or in pictures.

Writing a book is a time commitment.   Is there any particular way that you choose a project and how do you tell if you want to spend that time with it?  Have you abandoned projects?   Did you ever think of giving up the book that you’ve completed and had accepted for publication?
I plotted the time for this book. I had been creating the characters and the plot in my mind for months before I started it last June. At the time, my daughter and my granddaughter were living in Virginia Beach, where my son-in-law was stationed in the Navy and I knew they would be coming home in August to stay with us for a few months. I knew how much time I had and it wasn’t a lot, considering as I said, I work full time and have a teenage son and husband here to take care of. I worked on the book at least five nights a week for up to three hours a night. I didn’t get much sleep but looking back, I am so proud of what I was able to accomplish in those two short months. I considered putting the book on hold when the kids came home from Virginia and I did for a bit but when the house was quiet late at night, even if it was only for an hour, I wrote. There was no way I could have given this up.

Do you write regularly?  Have you had trouble writing some days?  How do you deal with that?
It’s a bit of a struggle right now with “Fireflies” coming out because I haven’t really had much time at all to work on my new book. I’m almost half way through it and I feel like my poor characters are in limbo waiting for me! However, I know that soon I’ll be able to get back to this new story and hopefully produce another book I can be proud of.

During the times when you’re not writing, what sort of activities feed into your imagination?  Do you take walks or talk with others in person or on the internet?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. They all inspire me and are all blessed with vibrant, fun and very outgoing personalities. Reading and movies definitely feed my imagination as well. I also have a select few television shows which I cannot miss which keep that hamster on the wheel in my brain running.

Do you have another job?  It seems that some jobs work better with writing than others.  Is yours compatible?
I’m an 8-5, five day a week full time employee so I don’t have the ideal job for a writer. I used to write a good bit at my day job, doing ads and brochures, as well as flyers and the company web site. I’m the office manager, for a sales and marketing department and I wear a lot of hats. Lately, I haven’t been able to use my creativity as much as I used to. My job has become more sales focused and it’s leaving me a little cold and frustrated. My income is essential to our family so unless “Fireflies” blows up and sells a billion copies, I suppose I’ll just have to tough it out because although right now I’m not as happy in my job, I’m happy enough that I certainly wouldn’t even think about working anywhere else. It’s 2013 and I’m just happy to still have a job.

How do you like to describe your background?
I grew up in the inner city in South Baltimore, which is now called Federal Hill. I’m the youngest of 11 children in a blended family. Growing up in my old neighborhood was a wonderful life. Everyone looked out for everyone else. We had corner stores, snowballs, parks, a great little league organization, tons of kids, amazing elders and lots of friends. Many of us who grew up there describe it as Mayberry North, meaning everyone knew everyone else and we were a real community of like-minded, loving people. My father worked 12 hours a day and my mother worked part time once we were all school age until later when I was in Junior high school, she finally got her nursing certificate and worked the night shift at a local nursing home until she retired and went back to working part time in a local drug store. Sure there was family drama and we had some difficult times but we always had love. 

Is there an experience or a person in your life that nudged you into serious writing?
No not really. Friends and family have always told me I had a way with words but writing has always been a part of who I am. I suppose I just have a lot to say.

What are your plans for writing?   Will you write another book in the same genre, write a sequel, or strike out into another direction?
All three of my beta readers “suggested” that I write a sequel to “Fireflies” and I have even started an outline for one but I think I’ll wait to see how the book is received by the general public first. However, as I said I have started another book which I would categorize as fantasy and it is completely different from “Fireflies.” I have many books in me so now the challenge is to find out if people actually want to read them. J Either way, I’m sure I’ll keep writing.

Fireflies is an exciting debut novel and P. S. Bartlett has obviously brought about this historical fantasy in an assuring way!  The book is available in paperback and in Kindle at, and as an ebook at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. 


The Wide Awake Loons, my middle grade book set in Northern Minnesota, is scheduled for publication April 16, 2013.  Here is the back cover copy of this  story about a loon family and the children who encounter it.

Ten-year-old Ginny and her mother are opening up the cabin where her family stays during the summer. On an otherwise quiet day, Ginny hears a male loon, Yudel, sparring with a younger bird over territory.

Canoeing with her friend, Wes, Ginny discovers a loon nest on an island. They quickly find themselves protecting the defenseless eggs against predators. On a later visit, Ginny finds Yudel drifting in the water, a fishing line trailing from his beak. Ginny’s attachment to the loons brings her to find inner strength.

During the summer, the loons raise three loonlings. Now faced with many dangers, Yudel and his mate, Owala, will put their courage to the test. Follow the journey of Ginny and the loons as their stories unite . . . 


More on that in my next blog post!